Building Smart Sponsorship Activations

After decades of tossing up a few logos and calling it a day, sponsorships have finally matured. Modern sponsorship activations are more about adding value to the fan experience and less about signage or slapping patches on a jersey. Whether it’s a sports, arts or entertainment sponsorship, today’s brands are finding ways to not only boost brand awareness, but leverage relevant engagements to forge meaningful connections with fans. Here are a few ways they do it.

Whether consumers know your brand or not, it’s important to convey your brand story to familiarize them with what you do and what you really stand for. Jägermeister leveraged the tactic at six EDM festivals last year with Haus56, a tree house-style structure topped with 40-foot antlers, which are a symbol of the company and its bottle. The brand also thwarted misconceptions that Jägermeister is all about wild parties and doing shots by serving a variety of sophisticated cocktails created with the liqueur and mixed with fresh fruit and juices.

What fans walk away from your activation with is also important—and we’re not just talking warm, fuzzy feelings. In the Age of Technology, simple giveaways can go a long way in creating memorable experiences. That’s not to say that event tech isn’t an important part of sponsorship, but while digital engagements are fun, a memento is forever. Toyota, the official vehicle sponsor of the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, took the approach by offering runners a seven-inch vinyl record engraved with the race date and their name and finishing time. The personalization factor made it that much more special to each recipient.

You also have to consider your digital presence. Live activations are, of course, paramount, but connecting with fans on social media is also critical to activating a sponsorship at scale. Consider conducting a branded Twitter Q&A with a big name athlete or celebrity associated with the property you’re sponsoring. Allowing fans to engage with their favorite stars will make your brand the hero.

And don’t forget good old event tech. Applying relevant technology to your activation can significantly enhance the experience for fans. American Express raised the bar on its sponsorship of the US Open with Rally on the River, the first-ever hydro-interactive tennis experience. Responsive tennis racquets, 3D graphics and projection mapping were all part of the mix, helping the brand elevate what could have been a static tennis match into an interactive, upscale experience.

Finally, don’t forget to add a little surprise and delight to your sponsorship activations, like ticket giveaway events. Not only do consumers love freebies, you can generate some hype for the big game or performance by turning tickets into premiums. And the best part—holding your own pre-event experience will familiarize consumers with your brand before they even set foot in the main event.

Sponsorship activations are all about creating memorable experiences, so stay fresh, stay relevant and give your engagements a unique flair that make your brand impossible to forget.